Denim and Lace

Our guild issued a new challenge that was due at last night’s meeting. The quilt was to use a mixture of denim and lace. It didn’t have to use actual denim but the fabric needed to look similar to denim.

I didn’t have any flat lace and, when I looked at the fabric store, I didn’t find any that I was particularly excited about. Instead I pulled out my lace trims and was immediately drawn to these two…..

As I have said before, I LOVE daisy-type flowers and these seemed to be perfect for a floral arrangement, but how was I going to do the vase. As I thought more, I wondered if I could make it out of the flat lace, but how would I attach it?

I was trying to keep the quilt fast and easy and wondered if I could used wonder-under on it. I made a small test piece…..

…and found that I worked great, as long as I covered it with a silicone cloth. AND, once I had ironed it really well, the fusible in the open mesh dissolved as well!!

After cutting the vase out, I added fused on stems and started placing the flowers in the vase…..

Once again I wondered how to easily attach the flowers and turned back to Wonder-Under….

….putting a small piece on the fabric and then adding the flower on top.

When I had everything arranged, I pressed it well…..

…and had a look.

Hmmm. it definitely needs some color. How about yellow centers for the flowers…..

To finish the quilt, I added two small borders on one side, quilted/thread painted it a bit, and called it finished…..

Our next challenge has been announced….an 18×18 inch animal portrait that contains a metallic embellishment of some sort…..sounds interesting!!!

Virtual Quilt-A-Long

Yesterday was another first for me…. I participated in a virtual quilt-a-long!! Our guild has been looking for ways to get our members together more often so we tried a Q-A-L. The numbers were small but we had a great time!!

We were following a challenge and the first clue was to use a circle in the design. I knew that I didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this project but still wanted to participate and this first clue reminded me of a book that I was planning to work thru……

So, I decided that I would kill two birds with one stone and try to follow the challenge clues while learning how to make a face in fabric….smart huh!!

While everybody else dug into their fabric, I started working thru the steps to draw a face. The book did a great job of teaching how to find the proportions of the face….

I started with the circle (arc) pieces….

….and then moved to the second clue….flying geese!!

After a few minutes of thought, I decided that she could have necklace of geese shaped beads…..

I will add a “chain” to it and may add some 3-D beads between the geese.

Next, we were supposed to add something with lines….either in cut strips or in a fabric. I excitedly searched for this one particular fabric in my stash…..

…and sliced it into lots of little strips…..

I had SO much fun playing with these strips and LOVE her hair….

Next clue said to add a house or architectural element such as a window or door. Since the eyes are said to be the window to the world….that was my invitation to work on her eyes…..

At this point the Q-A-L time was over and I had to move on to some other projects so here she sits…nose-less and mouth-less!!! But, MAN do I like her hair!!

Future clues include adding an X or cross, adding squares, putting a heart on it, and then one element of my own choosing. I don’t really know that I will continue with the challenge but sure plan to finish her up!!

For now she will be a mascot on my design wall….urging me on!!

Here is the progress from the other participants…..

There will be some WONDERFUL projects coming from this morning.

It was fun to have a view into our member’s sewing rooms and to be able to chat at different times thru the morning. I definitely want to do this again!!!!

Maybe you can join us next time!!

When you see a tree — part 2

At this point I wasn’t sure exactly what to do next. I finally decided that wanted to go ahead and layer the quilt and do some of the tree branch quilting. Since I couldn’t decide what to do about borders I decided to leave lots of room on the outer edges so that I can”flip and sew” the borders later.

I like to use a fusible batting and was surprised to find out that the stabilizer that I had ironed to back of the sky fabric wouldn’t adhere to the batting so I had to revert to safety pins.

The next step was to add some larger leaves, all completely attached to the top.   Then, continuing the layering effect, I added the tree branches over the top…..

I did have to switch to a close toed darning foot to attach the felted branches so that the foot wouldn’t get caught in the looser fibers from the needle felting.

Now it was time to insert the bird nest. I picked some light browns that might work for the nest and added Wonder Under to the back. As an aside, if you ever have trouble getting the paper off of the Wonder Under, you can pop it into your freezer for about 10 seconds and the paper will peel right off. Don’t know why….guess it is magic!!!

I sliced a bunch of tiny “twigs”

….and now it is time to play!!

I debated about using needle felting to make the nest but thought that it needed something that is a different texture from the tree bark.

The nest needed to be fairly small and I was afraid that I would make it too big, so I put a transparent pressing cloth over the quilt so that I could hopefully get it into perspective. I started with a few bare bones…..

….and kept adding “twigs” until it was the shape that I wanted…..

The next step was to add some color to the “inside” twigs to give it some depth.

I felt that the entire tree needed a bit more depth so added some more leaves, this time only sewing down the middle and leaving the edges free. They left wonderful shadows across the surface……

I had recently purchased a new “quilting”tool….a Carpenter’s Laser Square and I enjoyed using it to ensure that the borders formed a 90 degree angle. You can see the laser beam following along both sides of the corner……

I also used it to square up the outside edges of the quilt.

Finally, I tried something new when sewing on the facing. Previously, I had just sewn it on with measuring and then whacked it off at the end but this time I meticulously measured the strips agains the middle of the quilt and applied it as I would a border….pinning at each corner, in the middle, and several places inbetween. I believe that it helped to keep the quilt edges square!!

I was super happy with the finished product…..

….especially the new techniques that I had used, including stamping and needle felting. I also felt good about the finishing techniques that I had employed and felt that I had made a piece that was technically better than any I had before.

Having said that, I was completely blown away by the other entries in this challenge…..

I am DEFINITELY going to have to “up”my game further to compete with these talented ladies…..but a little “ootz” from the competition is never a bad thing!!!

Feeling “Snowed Under”

Back in January our Guild was presented with a challenge that was due at the June meeting.   It was billed as the “Idiom” challenge and the rules said to make a 24×36 inch quilt that represented an idiom.  The quilt could not have borders and must have a recognizable amount of black and white fabric.

My initial thought was that I didn’t want to do the challenge because I could only think of “cutesy” ideas and didn’t want to make that big of a quilt that would never hang on my walls.  So, I pretty much forgot about it!!

Then, back in February I was having lunch with my “Creative Group” and we were talking about how bad the winter weather had been.  One of the members showed a photo that her son had taken to prove just how much snow had fallen at his house.   When I saw the photo, I saw a single tree trunk in the middle of a snow drift with a horizon line and a forest of trees in the background.   When I asked the woman to share the photo, this is what I received……IMG_2203

…..a yardstick stuck into the snow on a table and something in the background….probably the back of a deck chair.    Yikes, is this really the photo that inspired me!!!

That evening, as I was playing around with the photo and thinking about the size of the quilt, I realized that it could EASILY be turned into a 24×36 inch quilt which would fit the challenge rules.    But, I still needed an idiom…. so I hopped on the internet and Googled “idioms and snow” and up popped “SNOWED UNDER”….the PERFECT name for this planned quilt!!!

I started on the quilt top by marking a 24 x 36 inch onto my design wall and laying out the possible fabrics…..IMG_5045

The next task was to “free-piece” the snow background.  This particular section started out by piecing a nine patch…..


….and continuing to add pieced segments until I got it to the size that I wanted……IMG_5299

…..and then added it to the other sections already on the wall……IMG_5300

After I had the snow bank pieced, and as I was trying to decide what to do with the background trees, I looked thru some photos that I had saved as inspirations and decided that, like this photo, there needed to be some tree shadows….. il_340x270.528691447_kn46

I briefly thought about painting the shadows but then remembered a banner that I had photographed in Scotland where netting was used to provide shadows on buildings…..

P5010860I grabbed the only netting that I had in the house (purple) and placed a temporary shadowIMG_5310I immediately liked how it looked!!

Now it was time to start quilting, so I did some sample quilting (with a pen) to see which I liked best…..IMG_5318

I picked the middle one and drew one blue line to use as a guide for the echo quilting, and off I went!!

While outlining the tree, I accidently hopped off the white and onto the tree trunk, leaving a VERY noticeable line.  Now I could have taken the stitching out but instead decided to cover the white line with a dab of from a brown Fabrico Marker. 

Unfortunately the next thing that I did was to pull out my spray bottle and liberally spray the blue line to remove the mark, AND, you guessed it…..the brown marker hadn’t dried yet and it bled onto the white fabric…..IMG_5322

It wasn’t much but was enough to ruin the piece and I was horrified!!   As I finished quilting the trees, I tried to think of ways to fix the bleed mark and had basically decided that I would need to take out some of the quilting and applique another piece of white fabric over it….SIGH….so much work!!!

But then I had the wonderful thought…..I wonder if I could paint over it?????

So a dab of paint on a dry brush…..

IMG_5325…. and the crisis was averted!!!!

I am extremely happy with the quilt and had a marvelous time working on it…..IMG_5449

…..definitely a win-win!!!

The Ombre Challenge

Ok….let me start this post by saying that, until a few months ago, I had no recollection of ever hearing the word “Ombre”, as opposed to “Hombre” which , as a Texan, I had heard all of my life.   It is a word that seems to be all the rage right now so I wasn’t surprised when it showed up in our guild challenge. 

Here were the rules for this fun challenge…..

Ombré (pronounced omb-ray) is a French word meaning “shaded”. It means having tones of color that blend into each other, graduating from light to dark. Think of the color gradations on paint chips, for instance. Ombré is a trendy and popular design element in everything from clothing to nail polish to hair color, and of course, quilts.

The first part of your challenge is to play with color values and create a quilt with ombré design elements. It could be monochromatic, showing shades of a single color. It could be a two tone quilt with one color blending into another or a rainbow quilt involving a whole spectrum of colors- we just want to see gradations in color, no matter how you choose to do it.

The second part of the challenge is to dive into your scrap basket and include them in this quilt. Your challenge quilt should have at least 50% fabric scraps, defined as smaller pieces of fabric left over from other projects. We are working on the honor system here. Feel free to swap fabric scraps with your friends! 

As usual, we had 6 months to make this quilt and also as usual, I didn’t start on it until the week before!!!   I had continued to try to come up with ideas but couldn’t find anything that really caught my imagination.  Then, as I was looking on Amazon for books that I could put on my Christmas Wish List, I came across a super simple block and decided  that I wanted to use it as the basis for my quilt.

To keep with the mandate of using at least 50% scraps, I opened my bin of 1.5 inch strips…..IMG_4670

….and started pulling any dark blue fabrics that had at least 10 inches in length.   Then I started pulling various other colors…blues, purples, pinks, peach’s and greens.   Once everything had been pulled and sorted a bit, it looked like this…..


I then took the darkest blue fabric from the top  left column and added it to the lightest purple on the bottom right column and started making random blocks, continuing to match up the left column fabrics with the right and center columns.

When I first laid them out, I was pleased with the results…..IMG_4687

In the end I decided that I really didn’t want the green blocks….except for one at the very bottom and this ended up as my final layout…..


In this photo I was also auditioning various fabrics for a border around the medallion.

In the end, I decided to use a mottled white fabric for the four corners and to move the border out away from the medallion.IMG_4699

By the way, I did NOT do a good job of cutting the four setting triangles and ended up cutting SQUARES rather than triangles!!  Fortunately, there was enough fabric for me to try again but I really need to think thru the math to do this properly next time.

Now it was time to do the quilting and my thought was to do a lot of circles on the medallion and straight lines in the background.    The circles went great and as I quilted them I kept seeing the dark blue 1 inch lines that dominated the block piecing.    I finally decided to extend these lines into the border and do some filler quilting inside them.   While trying to think of filler ideas I ended up looking at my IQA quilt show photos, noting down the ideas as I saw them…..IMG_4728

Then it was upstairs to try a few of them on fabric……


And the winner was this super easy squiggle on the left.…..


I loved doing this simple quilting and even took the time to bury all of my threads as I went  (another of my “do it the right way first” resolutions that I made after the quilt show)…..IMG_4729

My original idea had been to quilt something else in the other channels which were 1.25 inches wide, but I was so pleased with the texture that showed, I decided to leave it the way it was.


Here is the finished product……


…and I am super happy with how it turned out. 

And for those of you who ask, no I didn’t see the dark heart in the center of the top until AFTER it was completely pieced together!

Once again, a challenge led me to make a quilt that I am proud of and helped me to stretch myself to try some new things!!!